At the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine), the ANTrepreneur Center has secured support from prominent Orange County entrepreneurship groups for its upcoming AI Innovation Challenge. Tech Coast Angels (TCA), the OC Startup Council, the Tech Coast Venture Network (TCVN), and more will provide mentors, judges, and connections to help participating teams develop impactful innovations enabled by artificial intelligence.

The AI Innovation Challenge aims to inspire UC Irvine undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty to create solutions that address real-world problems using AI technology. The challenge invites teams from all majors and backgrounds to conceptualize and prototype an AI-powered solution that can benefit one of three specific areas: Health Impact, Storytelling and Entertainment, and Student Experiences.  

OC Entereprenurial and Startup Groups Show Their Support

The impact of the AI Innovation Challenge relies on buy-in and support from community partners. According to Ryan Foland, Director of the ANTrepreneur Center, “The AI Innovation Challenge showcases the boundless creativity of UC Irvine’s students and faculty. By fostering partnerships between our future leaders and the OC startup ecosystem, we can cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit that will drive innovation for years to come.” 

With this intended impact in mind, the ANTrepreneur Center is collaborating with local entrepreneurial and startup groups to support participating teams in several key ways.

On November 17th from 5:00 to 8:00 pm, the Center will host a Hack Day and Mentor Mixer event. At this event, groups like TCA, OC Startup Council, and TCVN will provide experienced entrepreneurs, founders, and tech professionals to advise the student teams. This event allows participants to get expert feedback and guidance early in the innovation process.

The community groups will also assist with securing judges to evaluate video submissions of students’ innovations. From November 27th to December 5th, judges will review five-minute video pitches submitted by teams and score them based on set criteria. By contributing judges from their networks of startup leaders and investors, these organizations will help provide impartial and constructive evaluations.

For the in-person Finals event on December 12th from 4:00 to 8:00 pm at the Cove, the ANTrepreneur Center will again draw from the OC entrepreneurial network to recruit volunteer judges. Groups like TCA, OC Startup Council and TCVN help connect the Center to entrepreneurs invested in UCI students’ success.  At the finals, judges will interact with teams and provide feedback on their innovations.

These collaborative efforts build on the ongoing support that TCA, the OC Startup Council, and TCVN already provide to the ANTrepreneur Center and UCI students. By partnering with these groups, the AI Innovation Challenge gives participants a direct line to the Orange County entrepreneurial and startup communities—important connections that they can leverage during and after the competition to advance their ventures.

Why They Care

For these groups, participating in the AI Innovation Challenge is an exciting opportunity to connect with UC Irvine’s entrepreneurial community and tap into the vast potential of UC Irvine’s innovative students and faculty.

“The AI Innovation Challenge is a tremendous opportunity for our TCA members to engage with and support the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Ray Chan, Marketing Chair for TCA Orange County. “We’re excited to mentor these teams and hopefully invest in their innovative companies down the road.” 

Similarly, Scott Fox, CEO of the OC Startup Council, explained that the challenge was an ideal platform to explore new ideas while also providing Council members with the chance to share their wisdom. He said: “The OC Startup Council is proud to support UCI’s ANTrepreneur Center by continuing to connect students to our thriving startup community. By mentoring and judging the new AI Innovation Challenge, our members can share their expertise while discovering new technologies emerging from UC Irvine.”

Aaron Klein, Executive Director of TCVN , echoed these sentiments: “TCVN is committed to advancing innovation and entrepreneurship through meaningful connections with UCI. Supporting the AI Innovation Challenge builds on our existing collaboration with the ANtrepreneur Center.”

Join the AI Innovation Challenge

As the AI Innovation Challenge unfolds, we invite every student, faculty member, and community enthusiast to take part in this exciting event. The future of AI, intertwined with the dreams of our students, awaits your participation.

For mentors:

Support our college innovators by offering guidance and expertise. Sign up to become a mentor.

For judges:

Lend us your discerning eye to review and rate our semi-finalists’ video submissions. It only requires an hour of training and another hour in late November. Sign up to become a judge.

For more information about the UCI ANTrepreneur Center and how it supports the UCI undergraduate entrepreneurial journey, including programming, speaker series, micro-internships, funding, and more, visit our website. You can also learn more about our valuable collaborations, including Blackstone LaunchPad, Tech Coast Angels, Tech Coast Venture Network, OC Startup Council, SoCal Celebrates Entrepreneurship. Get slices of startup life on Instagram, and learn about events and resources on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.